Prior to this, she spent over 20 years working for the civil service, initially as an economist. Francesca moved to Edinburgh in 1997 and has held a range of posts, including: Head of Sport at the Scottish Executive / Government; Principal Private Secretary to the First Minister, Alex Salmond MSP, MP; Director for Culture, External Affairs and Tourism; and Director for Housing, Regeneration and the Commonwealth Games. In 2012, Francesca was appointed as Director for the Commonwealth Games and Sport to oversee the delivery of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, for which she subsequently received an OBE. Francesca then led the Scotland Office of the UK Government from January 2015 until her appointment to NatureScot in 2017.
Francesca studied at Cambridge University where she obtained an MA in economics. She also received and MA in European economics from the College of Europe in Bruges.
Outside of work Francesca enjoys triathlon and has completed four ironmans. Whilst she now takes a more relaxed approach to her training, Francesca still occasionally combines swim, bike and run.